Words by Smiley Team
When Storm Arwen passed through the Northeast of England in November, its forceful winds tore down thousands of trees many of which were centuries old. To repair this damage, two 25-year-old nature lovers spent the winter planting new woodlands at National Trust Wallington in Northumberland.
Nick Allen and Rosie Pearce work to reforest land for The National Trust as apprentice rangers. They arrived in this role from different backgrounds but share the same passion for supporting wildlife and nature’s recovery.
Whereas Rosie chose to leave university to do something more practical, Nick left school and worked for the charity for a few years before applying for the apprenticeship.
“I just fell in love with its ideals and the principle of taking care of a place for the good of the planet,” Nick tells Smiley News.
For Rosie, the move from academic studies to working outdoors was vital: “While tree planting, it’s just good to know that what you’re doing is having a positive impact rather than a negative one on the environment.”
Nick too is happier working in a way that concretely benefits nature. “When I saw the apprenticeship, I thought about how we spend so much of our lives at work, that we may as well be working in a field that makes a positive difference and this job is really worth coming into work for.”
In just over a year the pair have already planted so many trees that even they have lost count. These include a wide variety of native species, which they carefully select to create a balance and promote biodiversity.
“Woodland is basically the richest, the most biodiverse habitat that we have in the UK,” explains Rosie. “We've got to preserve that habitat because we used to have so much more of it and then it steadily declined over the last decades.”
Despite the threats of intensive farming and increasingly extreme weather events like Storm Arwen due to climate change, the two rangers have hope things can improve.
On an optimistic note, Nick says: “I'm hearing more and more farmers and landowners who didn’t necessarily understand nature’s recovery in the past, becoming increasingly aware that this is a top priority.”
By itself, their work may not reverse the decline in British woodlands. But Rosie and Nick are working alongside many others like them across the country, all planting trees with a broader goal in mind. By 2030 The National Trust hopes to have planted 20 million trees across its properties, ensuring at least 17% of its land is forested.
To expand the positive impacts, the charity is calling for the British government to adopt the same target for British woodland in line with recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change.
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